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Swansea scientists develop new sensor

Graphene sensors are 'five times more sensitive'. Credit: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/PA Images

A team of researchers from Swansea University, using the University’s Centre for NanoHealth, say they have developed a highly sensitive graphene biosensor with the capability to detect molecules which show signs of increased cancer risk.

They say the newly developed graphene biosensor could ultimately help to provide a rapid diagnosis at the point of care.

In comparison with other bioassay tests, the sensor was over five times more sensitive.

Conventionally, graphene is produced by stripping layers from graphite.

However for a biosensor, a large substrate area is required in order to produce patterned graphene devices.

The researchers used conditions of low pressure and very high temperatures in order to grow graphene on a substrate of silicon carbide.

The graphene devices were then patterned by using methods similar to those used when processing semiconductors.

The team then attached antibody bioreceptor molecules that could bind to specific target molecules in urine, saliva or blood.

Could sheepdogs eventually be replaced by robots?

Until now, scientists had no idea how the dogs manage to get so many unwilling sheep to move in the same direction. Credit: Stephen Hailes

Sheepdogs follow just two simple rules when rounding up large herds of sheep, scientists have learned.

Dr Andrew King, of Swansea University, fitted a flock of sheep and a sheepdog with backpacks containing extremely accurate GPS devices, designed by colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College in London.

Daniel Strömbom, of Uppsala University, and colleagues then used data from the devices, together with computer simulations, to develop a mathematical shepherding model.

They discovered sheepdogs collect the sheep when they’re dispersed and drive them forward when they’re aggregated. In the model, a single shepherd could herd a flock of more than 100 individuals using these two simple rules.

Scientists say the findings could lead to the development of robots that can gather and herd livestock, crowd control techniques, or new methods to clean up the environment.

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New DNA techniques helping with unsolved cases

Advances in DNA technology are being used to help solve what happened to Priscilla Berry.

Detectives are using advances in DNA technology to try and identify human remains discovered in North Wales in the last 50 years.

Under Operation Orchid, officers say they hope to bring closure to families who have lived with uncertainty for a long time.

Criminality is not suspected in any of the cases.

One mystery dates back to January 1980, when female human remains were recovered from the sea 15 miles off Llandudno and were interred at a local cemetery.

Police inquiries with the National Missing Persons Bureau have identified a possible match with 39-year-old Priscilla Berry, possibly of the maiden name Sturgess.

She went missing from her home in Mochdre, Colwyn Bay, in June 1978.

It is now possible to link close family members such as siblings or children through DNA. If we can locate a brother, sister or child of Mrs Berry we can take a DNA sample to compare to the remains.

Although Mrs Berry went missing over 35 years ago, we believe it is still important for her family to know what became of their relative - and we will do all we can to help.

It is by no means certain that the remains are those of Mrs Berry, but the proposed tests should provide a definitive answer.

We are therefore appealing to anyone who is related to Priscilla Berry or knows any of her family members to contact North Wales Police.

– Detective Constable Don Kenyon

Viewers share pictures of last night's 'supermoon'

Mike Davies told us: 'A lucky break in the storm clouds allowed me to capture the supermoon over the Vale of Neath last night' Credit: Mike Davies
The moon appeared 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal as it reached the point in its orbit closest to the Earth Credit: Mike Davies
Mark Morgan snapped this shot of the supermoon in Cardiff just before midnight Credit: Mark Morgan

Wales' first full-scale tidal energy generator unveiled

The device will be installed in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire Credit: Tidal Energy Ltd

Wales' first full-scale energy generator has been unveiled today at Pembroke Port by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The device, which was developed by a tidal stream technology company in Cardiff, will be installed in Ramsey Sound in Pembrokeshire.

It's among the first in the world to generate green, sustainable and predictable tidal power.

The generator, named 'Spirit of the Sea', or 'Ysbryd y Mor', has been assembled by Pembroke-Dock based company Mustang Marine over the last six months, thanks to £8 million worth of EU funding.

“I’m delighted that Wales’ first full scale tidal stream energy generator has been supported with almost £8million from the European Regional Development Fund."

This is a landmark project for Wales, which will not only help us to meet our sustainable energy ambitions, but will also provide significant opportunities for local people and businesses.”

– Carwyn Jones, First Minister

BHF: We have a breakthrough - now we need a cure

Sudden cardiac death - which came to prominence when foootballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a near-fatal heart attack during a game - kills over 600 people under the age of 34 every year.

Now scientists at Cardiff University have identified the faulty gene that causes the condition, giving hope that a cure could be within reach.

Today we spoke to Professor Jeremy Pearson from the British Heart Foundation, who says he is encouraged by the breakthrough.

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Scientists solve sudden cardiac death mystery

Heart specialists at Cardiff University have, for the first time, discovered the cause of sudden cardiac death in young children.

Credit: PA Images

Scientists have found that incoherent communication between two proteins in heart cells was to blame for the previously unexplained cause of death.

"A healthy and regular heartbeat is maintained by precise control of the calcium level in heart muscle cells, but our experiments have identified a genetic flaw that invites chaos to this process."

– Professor Tony Lai, Cardiff University

In the future, Professor Lai anticipates that the finding will give doctors a new weapon in the fight against sudden cardiac death.

"Uncovering genetic links like this is vital to help combat the devastating effects of inherited heart conditions. The British Heart Foundation is urgently campaigning for more research to help find the undiscovered faulty genes putting people at greater risk of heart disease."

– Professor Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation